“Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.” Ephesians 6:16
Little did a sweet friend know when she shared how she felt paralyzed by feelings of fear how riddled my own life has been with fear – even as a devoted Christ follower. But unlike my friend who described herself as paralyzed with fear, I have had a vastly different experience. Instead of feeling paralyzed by fear, stuck in place, and unable to move, I have found time and again I tend to rush high speed ahead in a zillion impulsive directions with a zillion impulsive actions with a zillion convictions and justifications that of course I have to zoom ahead at a record-breaking pace to get everything in the world done this second. As opposite extremes as my friend and I may seem, we are truly not. For the common denominator is that debilitating and destructive fear are used by Satan to get us to be so in bondage to fear we live our lives reacting to fear instead of seeking, hearing, and following God according to His ways in His time for His glory. Fear is like a monster who desires above all else to lock us up in its heinous chains and keep us under lock and key so we are unavailable and unable to love, worship, and serve God as He created us to do.
The antidote to fear of course is faith. Faith comes by hearing God’s Word (Rom. 10:17) and learning to live by it as led by God’s Spirit which indwells Christ’s followers. We are fools if we think following Christ means we will never experience such fear. And we are wrong to condemn ourselves or others for feeling fear rather than lovingly, gently, albeit firmly and committedly encouraging ourselves and others to learn to follow Christ and obey God’s commands and instructions for our individual lives in spite of fear. Are my friend and I less loved by God because we experience fear? Of course not! Are we less committed to Christ because we battle fear? Of course not! What matters is not that any of us experience fear, worry, doubt, and anxiety, but that we faithfully, devotedly, dedicate ourselves to God, to His Word, to growing ever closer to the Lord and to becoming increasingly sensitive and obedient to the Holy Spirit’s leading in our hearts and lives. We need to learn to protect our hearts from it and to purge ourselves of it when we neglect to protect ourselves from it. While my friend is learning to seek God and take faith actions despite fear, I am learning to slow down, seek God, and take faith actions instead of to act frantically and impulsively. Victory over fear for those in a long-term battle is not via a magic wand and instantaneous deliverance though perhaps some are blessed with such a miracle, but in lovingly, blessedly, passionately, prayerfully, diligently, step by step, breath by breath, staying in pursuit of Christ forever.